Konrad Malik is not your typical CEO. He’s not a button-down suit and tie kind of guy. He wears crazy colored sneakers and designer duds. But, underneath that exterior, he’s serious about his business.
That business is RapidMake 3D Printing, a Toronto-based company that makes smaller 3D printers that have helped push the technology into the consumer market. Entering the 3D manufacturing revolution almost on the ground floor, RapidMake provides 3D printing services to large-scale manufacturers, drafting designs for smaller companies and collaborative engineering contracts.
Konrad Malik is a relatively young player in the Toronto tech field, going into tech out of high school and never looking back. Fascinated by the potential of 3D printing, he began working on his own innovations in the field. With his natural aptitude for engineering design, he was able to draft several new concepts and launch his own company.
1. You didn’t take the traditional career path to get to where you are today, did you?
Konrad Malik: Definitely not. I decided to bypass college because I pretty much knew where I wanted to go.
I went to a high school that was focused on science, technology, engineering and math, so I had a pretty solid background in all of those.
Plus, I’m really into inventing things. That’s one of the things that drives me.
3D printing was becoming a big thing, and I knew that was what I had to be doing. I started to play around with some ideas. I was lucky enough to meet some industry people who believed in what I was doing. And the rest, as they say, is history.
2. How has 3D printing evolved since you first started in the business?
Konrad Malik: When I first got into 3D printing, it seemed the technology was strictly for large manufacturing. Companies were quick to jump on the technology because it cut production costs.
Over the past couple years, 3D printing has exploded into all kinds of applications — medical devices, machine parts, you name it.
The technology’s become accessible to individuals, as opposed to large businesses, and that’s really exciting.
3. What about 3D printing for the consumer market? What do you think are the big things happening there and where do you see it going?
Konrad Malik: It’s exciting to see what people are doing with this stuff. Being able to put smaller printers into the hands of ordinary people, artists and creative types is just so cool. I’ve gone to art festivals and maker fairs and it’s mind-blowing to see the kinds of things people are doing with 3D.
Prices for printers for the consumer market will continue to come down, so we’re going to see more and more great creative stuff happening with the technology down the road. I’m confident about that.
4. What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
Konrad Malik: Get out there and go to as many meetups as you can. You never know when you’re going to find the person who wants to hire you or support your work and ideas.
If you really have an innovative concept, don’t just take a job with a company. Make your own job — either working for yourself or for a company that sees the value in your vision.
5. What’s the climate like for venture capital support today in Canada?
Konrad Malik: Depends on who you talk to. It’s been tough going for the last few years. It’s crucial to revitalize the VC sector so that new generations of startups can keep happening here. The government is making a good effort to spur things on.
Startups are looking to locate in places like Vancouver and Toronto. If they can continue to get support, it will be good for everyone.
The U.S. venture capital market is also very interested in what’s happening on the tech front in Canada, so some companies are getting support from there.
6. So what’s up with the sneakers?
Konrad Malik: Ha! That’s sort of become my trademark and nickname. Apple’s Steve Jobs, who was my idol, always wore black turtlenecks. I happen to like bright colors and designer sneakers. They’re just comfortable and they look great.